Stowaway, a science-fiction thriller directed by Joe Penna, is set in a near-future where space travel is a common occurrence, and humanity has already established a sustainable colony on Mars. As the film opens, we meet a team of three astronauts - Zoe (Anna Kendrick), the medical officer; David (Daniel Dae Kim), the mission commander; and Marina (Toni Collette), the ship's biologist - who embark on a two-year mission to Mars to collect soil samples and study the planet's habitability.
The three astronauts have spent several months in space, and as they make their way to Mars, a fourth member is discovered on board - an engineer named Michael (Shamier Anderson) who was accidentally trapped on the spaceship before it took off. Initially, the team is overjoyed to see Michael alive and in good health, but they soon realize that his presence will jeopardize their entire mission. The spacecraft was only designed for three occupants and has a limited amount of oxygen, food, and water supplies. With Michael on board, the resources they have will only support three people, leading the team to accept the stark reality that either one of them must die or none of them will make it back home alive.
As the mission progresses, the team is faced with a series of crises, from a fatal technical malfunction to physical injuries and emotional stress, which test their courage, ingenuity, and morality. While Zoe is determined to save Michael, who she believes deserves a chance to live, Marina favors sacrificing him for the sake of the mission, and David struggles with the weight of responsibility as the mission's leader. To make matters worse, as they near Mars, they discover that the supplies they were counting on to replenish the ship are unusable, leaving them in a race against time to come up with a solution before it's too late.
The film's plot revolves around the ethical dilemma of survival and the value of human life. As the team scrambles to find a way to save themselves, they must confront difficult questions about what it means to do the right thing in times of crisis. Is it better to sacrifice one life for the greater good, or is every life precious and worth saving? Who has the authority to make such a decision? Can a team overcome seemingly insurmountable odds by working together, or will self-interest and fear lead to their downfall?
The film's pacing is deliberately slow, building tension through a series of long takes and close-ups that convey the claustrophobic and isolated atmosphere of the spaceship. The characters are well-drawn, and each actor delivers a nuanced performance that adds depth to the story. Kendrick's Zoe is the heart of the film, providing a sense of hope and empathy that contrasts with Kim's stoic and pragmatic David and Collette's tough-minded Marina. Anderson's Michael, on the other hand, is the catalyst for the conflict, as his inadvertent presence challenges the team's integrity and loyalty.
The film's production design is impressive, with the sci-fi elements grounded in realism and attention to detail. The spaceship's interiors are cramped and functional, with each prop and control panel serving a purpose, and the exterior shots of the ship and the planet Mars are stunningly beautiful. The soundtrack, composed by Hauschka and Volker Bertelmann, is haunting and atmospheric, adding to the film's sense of foreboding and melancholy.
Overall, Stowaway is a gripping and thought-provoking film that succeeds in its goal of exploring the human condition in extreme conditions. It raises important ethical questions about survival and sacrifice, and presents a nuanced and emotionally resonant story. The film's impressive production values and strong performances make it a must-see for fans of science-fiction and character-driven dramas alike.
Stowaway is a 2021 science fiction movie. It has received moderate reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 5.6 and a MetaScore of 63.